Some parents who speak multiple languages wonder whether teaching more than one language to their child will confuse their child or delay speech and language development. The fact is that children can learn two languages with practice, and learning another language will not cause or worsen speech or language problems. The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) states that children who are bilingual follow a similar language development trajectory as monolingual children, but there are some normal deviations during bilingual language development:
- The child may not talk as much, or go through a “silent period,” when they start using a second language. This can last several months.
- The child may mix grammar rules of both languages in the same utterance.
- The child may use words from both languages in the same utterance.
These are normal parts of bilingual development. However, if communication challenges persist in both languages (i.e., abnormal milestones, grammar errors in the first language, word finding challenges, decreased total vocabulary) he or she may need support from a speech-language pathologist.
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